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How Back Pain Can Affect Your Relationship (and What to Do About It)
Episode 3426th April 2021 • Back Talk Doc • Sanjiv Lakhia - Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates
00:00:00 00:42:47

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We’re talking about healthy relationships on this episode of Back Doc Talk.

What does that have to do with back and spine health? A lot. 

With power couple and relationship coaches Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman at the helm, this episode examines how back and spine issues can affect your relationship and vice versa. 

Physical pain influences how we feel and how we interact with others, and developing a conscious awareness about how that affects our loved ones is critical.

Aaron dissects the difference between pain and suffering, while Jocelyn explains the importance of setting expectations. 

A sudden injury can change your life considerably, and dealing with the pain can feel like a burden to a partner. One way to address this is by more clearly defining roles and responsibilities when a family member is dealing with pain. This helps ensure there’s a discussion around expectations and to avoid leaving family members disappointed. 

Helping a partner who is managing pain is a balancing act — one that can be strengthened by better understanding how your partner communicates. No one is a mind reader! 

Tune in to this episode to discover how you can improve communication about back pain and prevent spine issues and injuries from wreaking havoc on your relationship.


💡 Featured Experts 💡

Name: Aaron and Jocelyn Freeman 

What they do: Aaron and Jocelyn are a power couple in the relationship world, helping couples navigate the highs and lows of married life. Through their sold-out events all over Arizona, their book, and coaching classes, Aaron and Jocelyn are in the business of healthy relationships. They are the founders of the Empowered Couples University, which helps couples harness important communication skills and invest in their relationship. 

Company: Meet the Freemans 

Words of wisdom: “[T]he place to really start to make a differentiation here, between the impact on the person that has the ailment, and is actually in physical pain versus the spouse. It is the difference...between pain being of the body and suffering being of the mind.” 

Connect: LinkedIn | Facebook | Podcast


⚓ Anchor Points ⚓

Top takeaways from this Back Talk Doc episode 

★    Open communication is your greatest tool. To prevent pain from creating havoc on your relationship, open and honest communication is essential for couples. This applies directly to how spouses and partners deal with their loved ones being in pain. How to navigate that is critically important, not only for suffering but for support.

★    Understanding you and your partner’s personality type is crucial. Whether you are a reserved or assertive communicator will affect how you handle a challenge — like pain in your relationship. Knowing whether you need to ask more questions (or fewer!) can be critical in navigating pain management and care of a loved one. Jocelyn and Aaron developed a quiz to determine your personality type. Take it at

★    ‘Depositing’ thanks and ‘withdrawing’ energy. Using a bank account as a metaphor to describe the transfer of energy and emotions between couples is a useful way to think about pain and stress. When you’re the one in pain, “depositing” gratitude into your partner’s bank account can greatly help your recovery process. On the other hand. “withdrawing” too much of their energy can cause resentment. Balancing this and understanding you’re not a burden is a hard lesson to learn, but an important one.


⚕️ Episode Insights ⚕️

[00:00] Mobile-based solutions for clinical practice: Check out our sponsor, QxMD, mobile solutions for driving evidence-based medicine in clinical practice.

[01:34] Introducing the Freemans: Dr. Lakhia introduces relationship coaches Aaron and Jocelyn Freeman, authors of “The New Power Couple” and “The Argument Hangover: Empowering Couples to Fight Smarter and Overcome Communication Pitfalls.”

[04:51] Breaking L1 to L4 and her relationship: Jocelyn speaks to how hurting her back had an emotional impact on her previous relationship because she pushed herself too far.

[07:29] Navigating back pain and interpersonal issues: Aaron and Jocelyn detail how to mitigate and develop a conscious awareness of how pain can affect relationships.

[9:58] Pain in the face of powerlessness: Being in pain can give people a sense of powerlessness that can leak over into relationships. Jocelyn talks about her personal experience.

[13:21] Checking on expectations in a relationship: Introducing the theme of their newest book, “The Argument Hangover,” the Freemans talk about managing expectations in a relationship, especially when there is a sudden and dramatic change like a back injury.

[17:23] Do the work: Dr. Lakhia challenges listeners to write down everything they need to do to help with their pain, from exercises to knowing who in your family is doing what. Make it concise and clear.

[18:00] Pain journaling can help expectations: While pain journaling is nothing new, Dr. Lakhia and his guests discuss how it can be used to help set and meet expectations when it comes to pain.

[22:08] Knowing your communication type: Jocelyn breaks down the communication personality types outlined in their book and the importance of not only knowing your own communication type but understanding your partner’s.

[27:17] A love bank account: The Freemans break down the concept of a “love bank account” and how the metaphorical idea of depositing and withdrawing energy from one another is applicable to relationships in crisis.

[30:32] On feeling like a burden: Dr. Lakhia reveals his own struggles with feeling like a burden to his family when he suffered a disc injury.

[35:15] Authentic conversations on Clubhouse: Aaron mentions he got on Clubhouse recently and was surprised at the vulnerable conversations people were having about their relationships.

[37:45] Healthy habits: Dr. Lakhia asks Aaron and Jocelyn about their personal workout and health routines.

[40:15] Words have meaning: Dr. Lakhia explains why the most important book in his life is “Autobiography of a Yogi,” by Paramahansa Yogananda.


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👉 If you enjoyed this episode of Back Talk Doc, check out our recent episode Ins and Outs of Spinal Fusions with Dr. Hunter Dyer.

🔎 For more information on Dr. Sanjiv Lakhia and the podcast visit

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Back Talk Doc is brought to you by Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, with offices in North and South Carolina. To learn more about Dr. Lakhia and treatment options for back and spine issues, go to To schedule an appointment with Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, you can call us at 1-800-344-6716 or visit our website at